Doing work experience at Time4Me was most definitely different to how I had visualised it in my mind. When you first think of working at a school counselling and therapy service, you would imagine quite a lot of listening and meeting lots of different people. Considering that school is out currently, and all the children are running about in playgrounds or binge-watching Netflix, there were no clients. No clients meant no counsellors which left me and Julia on our own. The atmosphere was definitely peaceful and easy to work with which is a big factor in how much you enjoy working.
My first day was made up of an induction and a quick tour of the building including a health and safety talk. I was introduced to all the company’s safeguarding, confidentiality and privacy policies. Bearing in mind that it is a counselling service, there were a lot of documents to read through; nonetheless I found it very interesting to read as I rarely ever come into contact with such documents. Seeing this on a professional level showed me how secure work settings need to be to ensure that everyone is protected. I then embarked on the journey of sorting out cashbook documents and arranging the outstanding ones into alphabetical order and then filing them away. After that had been finished Julia gave me some of Time4Me’s previous newsletters to read and I was able to redesign the current newsletter. This was definitely a lot of fun, and I spent a good hour exploring the different themes and styles I could apply and scrolling through google images.
Tuesday was by far one of my favourite days as I was able to do a lot of research into the topic of mental health and youth/school counselling. Julia set me with the task of posting a few Facebook posts on Time4Me’s Facebook and as someone who does not have a Facebook account, it was an absolute blast. I looked at a few different services in the local area to gain some inspiration including You4Us, Croydon Drop In and Mind in Croydon. For the next 2 hours, I sat down armed with a notepad and read through a gazillion articles. I learnt a lot about how collectively society fails to consider the mental health of young people on a formal basis. I popped a few of these articles onto the page and scheduled a few more for later dates. Alongside this, I decided to go down the motivational route of posting quotes that may inspire people. The day then moved on with me and Julia working as a two-woman team to input data into the Cashbook Excel spreadsheet. This contained data regarding the financial side of the work that Time4Me does. The day ended with me reading through some ‘End of Service’ School reports. These are given out to parents and schools to review how the therapy went and one thing I definitely gained from that was how important it is to evaluate any process to see how it can be improved for next time.
Wednesday kicked off with a directory update. The directory basically contains the details for different types of local services that are provided to people. I checked all the contact details for the current services and added a few more in. It was very uplifting to see that locally there are so many different services and clubs held for different people in order to help them. One of my favourites was The Bridge Youth Club which allows young people to gain confidential help on any concerns they have. I then helped Julia to input data into the ‘Client Data’ spreadsheet and update it to cater for this academic year. As part of any job, there is always the need to record information in an organised manner and through working on this database, I got to experience what that felt like. I then updated all the graphs from the previous service reports for certain schools.
On Thursday, I continued to work on my new favourite social media platform –Facebook. I posted an article and video from the CEOP Thinkyouknow website about social media and teenagers. I then worked on a fresh, little project consisting of creating a page for the Time4Me website. This was a report page containing the data from the service provided at all the schools that Time4Me works with. Once again, doing a more creative task was very enjoyable because I wasn’t staring at a bunch of numbers the entire time. I then helped Julia out once more with the Client Data Excel spreadsheet. Being able to just see the number of students who attend therapy for a range of different reasons was a real eye-opener for me about how important it is to address any form of mental health concerns/issues. It was very reassuring to know that students were seeking help for such concerns in order to lay out the best plan for their futures.
I finished working on the service reports and graph updating on Friday morning. I think the one thing that kept all this data entering and graph work far from boring was the meaning of the data. I personally take a lot of interest in mental health, therefore the information taught me quite a lot about how to deal with concerns that parents or schools may have about students. I also managed to learn a fair amount about the functions of the therapies offered. The afternoon consisted of scheduling posts and checking up on the Facebook page. Although I’m not too keen on many social media platforms, it did dawn upon me how easy it is to interact with others over a certain topic on such sites. As the amount of jobs left for me started to decline dramatically, I was then set the task of emptying out a cupboard full of the items used in play and creative therapy into a box ready to be shifted over to another room. I reckon the childish side of me came back when I saw all the playdoh.
Overall, I have to say that working at Time4Me was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Although that is a very conventional saying, it was able to provide me with the opportunity to perform tasks that I have not carried out before and gain knowledge about mental health that I could not find out in any other place. Being able to come in everyday and look at different aspects of administration work at a therapy service really gave me an idea of what type of work I’d like to do when I am older. Julia is absolutely amazing and extremely friendly so it was always very comfortable to be in the office and ask questions about anything I was confused or intrigued by. It was thoroughly enjoyable to experience the professional work zone and I’d definitely say that anyone looking for work experience should do it at Time4Me because no matter whether you’re staring at a computer screen the entire day or attending a mental health forum, you’ll never wish you were at home sleeping.